Book Review: Medieval Callings

Medieval Callings comprises eleven essays by internationally renowned medieval historians. Somewhat deceptively, only Jacques Le Goff’s prestigious name appears on the front page, as he authored the introductive essay and handpicked and curated the collection. Each piece presents a nuanced profile of a significant social or professional Middle Ages group. Warrior knights, monks, high churchmen, criminals, lepers, shepherds, artists, and prostitutes, all prominent figures of medieval society, are depicted here with great detail.

Medieval Callings, Italin edition's book cover The style varies according to the piece (and its author); some will inevitably be more fluent than others. Fundamental is the introductory essay by Le Goff himself, which provides a useful general overview of the work and also clarifies its stylistic choices. The Monk essay was crucial to me, as it surfaced abbeys and monasteries’ relevance and incredible influence on medieval society.

Medieval Callings’ innovative approach offers a valuable and intriguing perspective on the complex social dynamics of feudal Europe. The work shows signs of age, having passed more than 30 years since its publication. There are probably newer, modern studies that improve on these texts, but it still serves as a fundamental resource for uneducated readers such as myself.

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